Climate Resilience Planning for Mumbai City’s Infrastructure

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Author – Rohit Sadaphal

Mumbai-floods
Image Courtesy: First Post

Greater Mumbai is a city that is much more than the financial capital of India, generating 25% of industrial output, 70% of financial transactions and contributing 5% to GDP of India. The Mumbai Metropolitan area has a resident population of 12.5 million and a floating population of 5 million visiting every day. However, the city suffers from urban flooding due to heavy rains pouring during July to October, which is aggravated by the inadequate infrastructure that can mitigate and adapt itself to face this challenge.

The city was brought to a standstill on 26th July 2005 due to the catastrophic urban flooding, which was attributed to severe rains, hard landscaping, inability of street infrastructure to divert storm water to streams. The Fact Finding Committee on Mumbai Floods attributed the disaster to destruction of mangroves due to the dumping of construction debris and other waste for reclamation and uncontrolled haphazard growth of the city. While the city is facing pressures in terms of increased demands for resources, infrastructure and urban services, it is also increasingly exposed to the brunt of climate change and variability. Shifting the development paradigm towards climate resilience would reap benefits that would go beyond environmental concerns, fostering social and economic sustainability.

Eckonirmitee Infrastructure & Services is developing a new urban infrastructure model that supports climate resilience planning for the city of Mumbai. ‘Climate resilience’ is a new concept that defines the ability of local communities, cities and countries to mitigate and recover from shocks and crises, in order to reduce chronic vulnerability and enable sustained development. Even at micro level, with the shifting temperature patterns households and communities are forced to develop a system for adapting to these changes. This has been acknowledged in regard to urban areas which are most vulnerable and disproportionately face higher risk from effects of climate change.

Image Courtesy: DNA India
Image Courtesy: DNA India

Rapid urbanization accompanied by a surge in energy needs calls for innovative approaches to tackle the resource constraints in a manner that would combine efficiency with cost effectiveness right from the design stage to all the other aspects of the cities functioning. There is an intrinsic relationship between urban development and the way a city manages its resources. Cities that are resource efficient integrate greater productivity with reduced environmental impact, while offering a more holistic model for urbanization.

The transition towards sustainable cities depends on how well this integrated approach to urban planning is seen as a major opportunity for investment in the field of renewable energy, waste management and other areas that ensure sustainability of cities. The demographic shift and migration to urban areas has brought its own set of unique challenges, which are of particular importance when seen in the context of, the prevailing socio-economic inequalities in developing countries and the resource constraints faced by an expanding world population.

Eckonirmitee is developing possible climate resilient systems that are required to ensure city-wide sustainability in the context of Greater Mumbai. These systems would address some of the core infrastructural aspects such as energy efficiency, waste management, and urban ecosystem management available for the city at local level that can help its transition to more sustainable versions in future.

This project re-imagines climate change adaptability and urban flood resiliency by developing products and services out of solid waste. The solution integrates utilization of construction and demolition waste management for developing infrastructure products that mitigates climate challenges. The minimum viable product from this project deals with sustainable transformation of construction waste in urban areas by recycling debris and utilizing geo polymer concrete to create pervious pavers for allowing storm water from streets to recharge ground water aquifers. This system is designed to reduce flow energy, cleanse, convey and infiltrate water generated from nearby impervious surfaces and channelize it to storm water drains.

References:
Fact Finding Committee on Mumbai Floods, Volume 1, 2006
Learnings from Climate Resilient Cities, TERI, 2014
J Hurarera, J Cassidy, A Adriana, 2014, ‘Built-in resilience: learning from grassroots coping strategies for climate variability’, Environment and Urbanization, Vol 2 No 2, October 2010, pp. 415-431

About the Author:
Rohit Sadaphal is Co-Founder & Director of Eckonirmitee Infrastructure & Services that deals with sustainable recycling and environment infrastructure development. He holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Urban Development and Management from TERI University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the Government College of Engineering, Aurangabad.

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